Love gods


The Raising of Ganymede (1886) by Gustave Moreau.

The story of the love between Zeus, king of the gods, and Ganymede, the handsome son of the Trojan king, goes back at least three thousand years and its roots disappear into the prehistoric neolithic. (more)


Hylas (1846) by HW Bissen.

Not for us only, Nicias, (vain the dream,)
Sprung from what god soe’er, was Eros born:
Not to us only grace doth graceful seem,
Frail things who wot not of the coming morn.
No—for Amphitryon’s iron-hearted son [Heracles],
Who braved the lion, was the slave of one:—

A fair curled creature, Hylas was his name.
He taught him, as a father might his child,
All songs whereby himself had risen to fame;
Nor ever from his side would be beguiled
When noon was high, nor when white steeds convey
Back to heaven’s gates the chariot of the day,

Nor when the hen’s shrill brood becomes aware
Of bed-time, as the mother’s flapping wings
Shadow the dust-browned beam. ‘Twas all his care
To shape unto his own imaginings
And to the harness train his favourite youth,
Till he became a man in very truth.

Theocritus, Idyll XIII: Hylas.


Pan teaching Daphnis to play the panpipes; Roman copy of a Greek original from the 3rd-2nd centuries BCE by Heliodoros.


The Death of Hyacinthos (1801) by Jean Broc.

‘You too, Hyacinthus, of Amyclae, Phoebus would have placed in heaven, if sad fate had given him time to do so. Still, as it is, you are immortal, and whenever spring drives winter away, and Aries follows watery Pisces, you also rise, and flower in the green turf. My father, Phoebus, loved you above all others: and Delphi, at the centre of the world, lost its presiding deity, while the god frequented Eurotas, and Sparta without its walls, doing no honour to the zither or the bow. Forgetting his usual pursuits, he did not object to carrying the nets, handling the dogs, or travelling as a companion, over the rough mountain ridges, and by constant partnership feeding the flames.

‘Now, the sun was midway between the vanished and the future night, equally far from either extreme: they stripped off their clothes, and gleaming with the rich olive oil, they had rubbed themselves with, they began a contest with the broad discus. Phoebus went first, balancing it, and hurling it high into the air, scattering the clouds with its weight. Its mass took a long time to fall back to the hard ground, showing strength and skill combined. Immediately the Taenarian boy, without thinking, ran forward to pick up the disc, prompted by his eagerness to throw, but the solid earth threw it back, hitting you in the face, with the rebound, Hyacinthus.

‘The god is as white as the boy, and cradles the fallen body. Now he tries to revive you, now to staunch your dreadful wound, and now applies herbs to hold back your departing spirit. His arts are useless: the wound is incurable. Just as if, when someone, in a garden, breaks violets, stiff poppies, or the lilies, with their bristling yellow stamens, and, suddenly, they droop, bowing their weakened heads, unable to support themselves, and their tops gaze at the soil: so his dying head drops, and, with failing strength, the neck is overburdened, and sinks onto the shoulder.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Bk X:143-219 Orpheus sings: Ganymede; Hyacinthus

Previously on { feuilleton }
Three stages of Icarus
The end of Orpheus

Paulini’s mythological alphabet


Whoever I. Paulini was, no one seems to know his (or, indeed, her) first name. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, which owns a copy of these plates, doesn’t elaborate. The copies here are scans from a Getty edition of Alphabeto, part of the collection of Getty Institute volumes at the Internet Archive. The book is usually dated 1570 but a note states that “The watermarks … suggest a printing date closer to the end of the 16th century than to 1570, the conjectural date of first publication.”


Paulini gives use twenty engraved plates each showing an ornamented letter of the Roman alphabet with a background depicting a scene from Greek and Roman mythology; each letter is tied to a different character or scene, so here we have G for Ganymede, and N for Narcissus. Mister Aitch at the late, lamented Giornale Nuovo was a great enthusiast for these kinds of alphabets, and for engravings in general. He pursued his own researches into the Paulini mystery back in 2006 when copies of the complete set of letters were difficult to find.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The etching and engraving archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Joseph Balthazar Silvestre’s Alphabet-album
Johann Theodor de Bry’s Neiw Kunstliches Alphabet
The Book of Ornamental Alphabets
Paul Franck’s calligraphy
John Bickham’s Fables and other short poems
Letters and Lettering
Studies in Pen Art

The art of Ludwig von Hofmann, 1861–1945


Ludwig von Hofmann was a German artist whose work has already appeared via the above example from Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration. Many of Hofmann’s drawings and paintings appeared in that magazine’s rival publication, Pan magazine, for which the artist also provided a cover design for the collected editions, and vignettes for the interiors.


Hofmann is also of note for those of us who search art history for potentially gay art or artists. A handful of his works turn up continually on forums where homoerotic artwork is posted even though I’ve yet to see any evidence that his desires ran in this direction. It’s true that many of Hofmann’s pictures focus exclusively on the naked male form, but it’s equally true that he painted and drew a large number of naked women. Males and females often appear together in Adam and Eve pictures, a theme which was so common in German art at this time it’s easy to assume that most artists were using the subject as the merest excuse to represent the unclothed figure.


Ganymede poster design from Pan (1895).

Biographical details state that Hofmann married his cousin in 1899 although he still may have been  bisexual, of course. If I was making a case for a Uranian inclination in his art I’d point to his poster design on the Ganymede theme (a favourite among gay artists with its story of Zeus falling for a beautiful boy), his many drawings of bathing boys and naked riders on horseback (the latter seems an obsession), Thomas Mann’s admiration for his work, and at least one sketch of a boy from Capri, an island with a long history as a favourite holiday resort for the rich and famous homosexuals of Europe. Whatever the truth, many of Hofmann’s pictures remain homoerotic, intentionally or not, and a few further examples are posted here. I should note that two of the pictures have been cropped to focus on the male figures, and that many of them lack verifiable dates.

Continue reading “The art of Ludwig von Hofmann, 1861–1945”

Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration #23


An exhibition of Wiener Werkstätte posters and graphics.

Continuing the delve into back numbers of Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, the German periodical of art and decoration. Volume 23 covers the period from October 1908 to March 1909, and aside from some dull paintings the Wiener Werkstätte continue to dominate proceedings with photographs and graphics from exhibitions of their work; the slow evolution towards Art Deco continues.

As usual, anyone wishing to see these samples in greater detail is advised to download the entire number at the Internet Archive. There’ll be more DK&D next week.


Gustav Klimt turns up again with his most famous work, The Kiss, here named Liebespaar.


Continue reading “Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration #23”

The art of Aquirax Uno


First Love Inferno (1968).

There’s very little web information available for Aquirax Uno, a Japanese artist active in the 1960s and 1970s who really ought to have a dedicated site. Much of his work seems to be poster art for cinema or product advertising, and, as usual on the web, what there is tends to get repeated a great deal. You can see more examples like these at Pink Tentacle, Ganymede Kids and Beautiful/Decay.


Keiko’s at Marubutsu Department Store (1967).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Alice in Acidland
Salomé posters
Polish posters: Freedom on the Fence
Kaleidoscope: the switched-on thriller
The Robing of The Birds
Franciszek Starowieyski, 1930–2009
Dallamano’s Dorian Gray
Czech film posters
The poster art of Richard Amsel
Bollywood posters
Lussuria, Invidia, Superbia
The poster art of Bob Peak
A premonition of Premonition
Metropolis posters
Film noir posters